Update on the latest business


Stocks rise

NEW YORK (AP) — Gains in technology, banks and industrial companies are driving stocks higher in midday trading on Wall Street, making up some of the ground the market lost a day earlier.

Facebook was up 2.8 percent, JPMorgan Chase rose 1.6 percent and Amazon rose 1.8 percent.

Advance Auto Parts jumped 10.6 percent after reporting better earnings than analysts were expecting. Extra Space Storage climbed 1.7 percent after its results also came in ahead of forecasts.

Bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury rose to 2.90 percent.


US home sales fell 3.2 percent in January, 2nd straight drop

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. sales of existing homes fell in January from a year earlier by the most in more than three years. Would-be buyers were stymied by rising prices and a shortage of homes for sale.

The National Association of Realtors says sales dropped 3.2 percent last month, the second straight decline, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million. That was the slowest sales pace since September. Sales dropped 4.8 percent in January compared with 12 months earlier — the steepest such decline since 2014.

A lack of available homes is holding back sales, even as Realtors report that more people are visiting open houses and demand is strong.

The total supply of homes for sale dipped to 1.52 million, the fewest for any January since records began in 1999.


White House says US could reach 3 percent growth rate

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House top economist says the U.S. could achieve annual growth rates of 3 percent through the next decade if President Donald Trump’s policies on regulations and infrastructure are enacted.

Kevin Hassett of the Council of Economic Advisers released the annual economic report. It praises the effects of the tax cuts and tax overhaul signed into law by the president.

The report says Trump’s “pro-growth policy agenda,” including the tax cuts and efforts to cut regulations, “have inspired enormous confidence in the economy and optimism that it will continue thriving.”

The report forecasts an overall average annual growth rate of 2.2 percent through 2028. But it adds that with the “full implementation” of the president’s agenda, the growth rate could reach 3 percent through the next decade.


Treasury seeks changes in handling trouble banks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Treasury is recommending a divisive procedure for handling troubled financial institutions be retained with some changes rather than being scrapped as many conservative lawmakers had wanted.

The Treasury Department said Wednesday that the process, known as the orderly liquidation authority, could be altered, but should be kept in place as an emergency tool for use in circumstances where the collapse of a large financial institution could destabilize the entire economy.

Many Republicans in Congress for years have attempted to repeal this section of the Dodd-Frank Act, saying that it encourages big banks to engage in the types of risky behavior that ignited the 2008 financial crisis.


Iowa congressman failed to disclose internet company

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A congressman from Iowa violated House ethics rules by failing to disclose his ownership of a company that uses one of his federal staffers in a false testimonial for its services.

A business filing reviewed by The Associated Press shows Rep. Rod Blum was one of two initial directors of the Tin Moon Corp. when it was incorporated in 2016 as Blum was in his first term. House rules require members to identify all outside corporate positions they hold, but Blum didn’t list his role in his 2016 disclosure.

Tin Moon’s website had listed Blum as its CEO, featuring an official photo showing Blum wearing his congressional pin. The company removed the photo and changed Blum’s title to “majority shareholder” Tuesday after AP raised questions.

Blum told AP he wasn’t involved in the company’s operations.


Broadcom is adjusting its buyout offer for Qualcomm

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — Broadcom is adjusting its buyout offer for Qualcomm, a day after that chipmaker raised its bid for NXP Semiconductors to approximately $43.22 billion.

Broadcom Ltd. said Wednesday its revised offer includes $57 in cash and $22 in Broadcom shares. Its prior bid included $60 in cash and the rest in stock. Broadcom said that if Qualcomm doesn’t complete the NXP takeover, it will go back to offering $60 in cash and the rest in Broadcom stock. The proposed deal’s value still tops more than $121 billion in cash and stock.

Broadcom said the rest of the terms are unchanged, including an $8 billion termination fee.

San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc. makes the Snapdragon chips used in smartphones and tablets. A tie-up with Broadcom would be the largest tech deal in history.


Google’s digital assistant branches out to Nest camera

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google’s voice-activated assistant is branching out to Nest’s deluxe security camera in an expansion that may amplify the privacy concerns surrounding internet-connected microphones.

The virtual assistant is being offered to owners of the Nest Cam IQ in a free update rolling out Wednesday. The move comes just two weeks after Nest moved back under Google’s direct control after spending nearly 2 1/2 years as a separate company owned by the same parent, Alphabet Inc.

The $300 Nest Cam will give Google a potentially valuable earhole as it strives to build digital command centers in people’s homes.

That ambition has already spurred warnings from privacy watchdogs about the potential for internet-connected devices being used as surveillance tools.

Nest says it doesn’t share its customers’ personal information without permission.


Priceline changing its name to Booking Holdings

NEW YORK (AP) — Priceline is changing its name to Booking Holdings Inc., citing its expansion into numerous international brands over the last 20 years.

The change at the former Priceline Group Inc. is effective immediately. The company will begin trading under the ticker symbol “BKNG” on February 27.

The travel website company operates in more than 220 countries. It said Booking.com, its largest brand, has more than 1.5 million properties and averages a million bookings per day.

The company’s websites include Booking.com, priceline.com, KAYAK, agoda.com, Rentalcars.com and OpenTable. The company will still be based in Norwalk, Connecticut.


To get a ride, Uber says take a walk

DETROIT (AP) — The latest variation of an Uber ride will require a short walk.

In eight U.S. cities, the ride-hailing company is rolling out a service called “Express Pool,” which links riders in the same area who want to travel to similar destinations. Once linked, riders would need to walk a couple of blocks to be picked up at a common location. They also would be dropped off at a site that would be a short walk from their final destinations.

Express Pool could cost up to 75 percent less than a regular Uber ride. Express is running in San Francisco and Boston and soon will be offered in Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Miami, San Diego and Denver. Uber says more cities will follow.


Amid a flood of plastic, big companies see opportunity

LONDON (AP) — Public awareness of the problem of plastic waste is swelling and companies are reacting.

After alarming forecasts that there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050 and striking documentary footage of plastic in the sea, companies are increasing wary of being associated with ecological waste.

In the last few months, Amcor, Ecover, Evian, L’Oréal, Mars, M&S, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Walmart and Werner & Mertz – which together use over 6 million metric tons of plastic packaging a year — have committed to using only reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Adidas is making a line of clothing from recycled plastic bottles. British supermarket Iceland plans to remove all plastic packaging from its products by 2023.


Jobs, training, free tickets: Casino woos minority community

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — A new casino is making a massive effort to engage Atlantic City’s large minority community in which it will operate, where black residents have long felt excluded from the riches that the gambling halls generate.

Hard Rock plans to do more than just hire local residents to work at its casino when it opens this summer.

It also plans to train their children for careers in the industry, set aside free or discounted concert tickets for city residents, hire graduates of a drug offense court diversion and treatment program, and hold community meetings every three months to nurture ties to the community.

Hard Rock CEO Jim Allen aims to dispel the perception of casinos living on an island, isolated from the surrounding neighborhoods.

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